Trail triggers big slip spat

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A Frankton couple fear Queenstown’s council will aggravate a slip-prone reserve by putting a cycle trail through it. 

Kawarau Place residents Kay Edwards and Jim Huffstutler believe the council will jeopardise the dangerous slip area by removing trees placed to stabilise the land and doing earthworks. 

The council contends its decision to use a boardwalk for this section of the 100km Queenstown Trail removes those concerns. 

Edwards says the gully reserve by her property has been subsiding since the record flood of 1999. 

“Trees have moved from the top of the bank right down to the bottom of the gully,” she says. 

The council hazard register also shows the reserve being within a landslide area. 

Edwards says the council will be liable if trail work causes slumping or subsidence on her land – and because the council has to maintain the Queenstown Trail, she’s also concerned ratepayers will have to stump up for boardwalk repairs if it moves. 

Both she and Huffstutler believe the council should investigate taking the trail over the gully, either by a bridge or boardwalk. 

Huffstutler also questions why the trail has to go along this section of the Kawarau River, asking why it can’t take in Riverside Road and Kawarau Place before joining a track running to Robertson Street. 

Council community services manager Paul Wilson says the trail design was changed after he and his geotechnical engineer listened to neighbourhood concerns. 

“We have a design that mitigates those issues,” he says. 

Four-metre-deep piles will reduce the weight on the slope and help anchor it, Wilson explains. 

“We acknowledge that the trail will be going past their property but it is a public reserve foremost and we think the public have a right to use it.” 

Wilson believes bridging the gully could cost more and increase the risk of subsidence. 

Using existing streets for part of the track didn’t fit with a world-class cycleway, he says. 

“It’s quite scenic through there,” Wilson says. 

“It opens up the river, it’s actually a really natural extension to the walkway we’ve already got.” 

Wilson expects the work to take place over the next two months.